Six artists were asked to make work in response to the 301 porte cocheres populating the centre of Milton Keynes, which differentiate this town from any other in Britain. These structures, which resemble minimalist sculptures, offer temporary shelter to pedestrians crossing roads and act as markers for the grid of pedestrian routes which weave through the town.

The artists selected for this programme interrogate the interface between the built environment and its society. Many of the artists destabilise the modernist utopian aspirations that have conjoined post wars artistic genres of minimalist and formalism with their counterparts in city planning. Whilst the porte-cocheres have a practical role, they have not been constructed in relation to real need, but rather to an aesthetic rational, leaving many of the porte cocheres unused. The artists question the automatic presumption that our urban design is truly well considered and necessary, by subverting these designs and their contexts, compounding traditional distinctions between art, design and engineering.


Michel de Broin Tortoise 
Tortoise uses 300 miniature Porte Cocheres within the artwork, building on their concept of protection for the wandering pedestrian from the weather. The work suggests a scenario where all the existing Porte Cocheres have uprooted themselves and reconfigured into a new fictional configuration, the formal approach of which is inspired by the Roman ‘tortoise formation’, a protective strategy. ‘By facing out, the Porte Cocheres that were once a place for encounter, have become a dark inaccessible inner space. The sculpture broadly refers to the utopian aspirations of Milton Keynes, which like the tortoises, are now becoming an endangered species, and we must therefore protect them in these changing environments.’

David Batchelor Chromochochere
For many years a clock has existed as a kinetic work of art on church towers, railway stations civic and other buildings in towns such as Milton Keynes. In an age of cheap watches and hand-held digital devices, the public function of time telling has been made largely redundant. ‘Chromocochere is a largescale digital clock and a constantly changing spectrum of vibrant colour. Over the course of an hour the circular work gradually and imperceptibly moves through the colour spectrum. The circular form of the work refers both to the classic shape of a traditional clock but it also refers to the colour circle, which was first developed by Isaac Newton in his analysis of the colour spectrum in 1704.

Sam Jacob MK Menhir

MK Menhir is a 1:1 replica of a standing sarsen stone from the Avebury stone circle. The sculpture has a close relationship with the history and culture of Milton Keynes’ original design, making a connection with the landscape and ideas that underwrote the concept for the new town. The MK Menhir draws on these ideas by creating an artwork that is both ancient in its references and modern in its appearance through the iridescent car paint used in its finish. ‘The stone sits on the Porte Cochere like a sculpture on a plinth, but this is a plinth that is part of the landscape and the sculpture on top of it is also a fragment of the landscape.

Will Nash MKPortal
Will Nash has transformed an underpass, beneath the junction of Midsummer Boulevard and Saxon Gate, into a hall of mirrors. The installation is inspired by the modern minimal and reflective aesthetic of the commercial centre of Milton Keynes. ‘We are living in the age of the selfie, so it seemed to me that the opportunity to be surrounded by multiple reflected images of the self might be an appropriate and welcome metaphor for contemporary life.’ 

Michael Pinsky‘ s proposal passive/active uses a pair of porte-cocheres. The right half hosts a mass of letters taken from the logos of high street stores in Milton Keynes. These companies have donated a letter from one of their illuminated logos. Merging the brands distance them from their primary function, leaving them as a semi-legible construction. The left side contains, within the same proportions as the logos, a selection of graffiti tags sourced from around Milton Keynes. The tags entwine each other forming a dense, virtually unreadable, mass of neon. The identical framing of the logos and tags strips away the context, both physical and legal, leaving the viewer to contemplate the beauty and meaning of the words, letters and fonts.

Tea Mäkipää‘s proposal Drive-in-Cathedral is the cathedral in Milton Keynes exclusively for the cars and drivers. The cathedral has the recogniseable outline shape of a cathedral. The shape is cut out of steel plates that are attached on top of several port-cocheres.The cathedral is equipped with lights and the text ‘Drive-in-Cathedral‘. Actually it is more like a drive-through-cathedral; when one passes the cathedral at the normal speed of traffic there is little time  for  religious reflection.

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